We recently announced that we're a proud winner of the 2019 Best Places to Work in TV survey by Broadcast and Best Companies Group. This accolade means an awful lot to us as we've always strived to create a happy, nurturing environment.
Here's a little bit more about the importance of a happy ship and recruitment challenges in a booming industry. By BZ co-founder Tom Box.
Blue Zoo has always been an employee-centric studio. Why is that so important?
When it comes to running a business that has creativity as its foundation, it takes a different approach to a 'normal' business, which tends to be more centred around short term bottom line and profit KPIs. Creativity has to be organic; it’s weakest when it’s forced. So we have to build an environment where creativity is part of the furniture, and people live and breathe it - so it's not squeezed out of people to meet a target.
This means we need people that love doing their job, that naturally get on well with each other and have fun motivating and inspiring each other to be even better.
Happy, talented people will collaborate to make awesome work, and that then leads to a profitable, successful business.
What are the biggest challenges with regards to attracting talent?
The animation industry is very busy at the moment, with Netflix and co giving birth to a new era of booming production (largely down to tax reliefs designed to encourage UK production). This means there is a skills shortage, with under 10% of job applicants approaching Blue Zoo being 'work ready'. This means we have to do everything in our power to make our studio as attractive a place to work as possible (and prove it actually is!).
With the studio expanding so rapidly, what do you think BZ can do to maintain it's family-feel culture?
It’s not easy! I think 95% of all problems stem from communication, so it’s largely down to this. Making sure people have every opportunity to chat.
It’s mainly lots of little things, for example, our internal company-wide email list has purposefully next to no 'rules', so people can freely communicate without worrying about hitting send. We have many company-wide meetups, like beer o’clock on a Friday, which we hold in one location rather than each team doing their own thing.
Everything is designed around making sure people have the opportunity to see each other and hear each other, and the opportunity to openly feedback to management if they think we’re doing a rubbish job!
What are your plans for the future?
We’ve always been a single studio setup with all production done in-house, to aid creativity and quality (having a creative brainstorm over a conference call is far from the best way of working). The best ideas are iterated and inspired by people bouncing ideas off each other naturally. But now one of our core aims is to be less London-centric, which means creating a separate, regional workforce.
Geographical separation is a much harder issue to solve than simply scaling-up when it comes to building and preserving culture.
Our focus now is to look at how best we can do this, and build a company which has a world-class reputation for being the best animation studio to work at, in terms of the quality of each project and a very happy workforce.
Big thanks to Tom for sharing his thoughts. Next, we'll be talking about the importance of making sure the industry is fully inclusive, so watch this space!